The Port of Palm Beach has written to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seeking a short-term state subsidy to keep a Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line vessel available to help the Bahamas.

Without the $9 million grant, the line can't afford to keep devoting its vessel to emergency relief, said a letter signed by Katherine Waldron, chair of the Port of Palm Beach Board of Commissioners.

"Already, millions of dollars are being raised to purchase and ship items to the Bahamas," Waldron wrote. "If the cost of shipping, through the use of a charter vessel, can be reimbursed by the state of Florida, then 100% of the monies being raised and the supplies being donated can go directly to the Bahamas relief effort and not to the cost of shipping."

The two-ship Bahamas Paradise line has almost exclusively offered short cruises between the Port of Palm Beach and Freeport. It has been taking relief supplies to Freeport and returning with evacuees since Hurricane Dorian's pass through the Bahamas.

Waldron said the line is unable to continue in that role absent passenger income, and therefore plans to "relocate" to other tourist markets such as Key West, Bimini and the Virgin Islands.

The letter said fuel, maintenance and shipboard personnel costs amount to $9 million a month.

"None of these funds will be used for docking, parking or tenant fees usually owed to the Port of Palm Beach from the cruise line," Waldron said. "The loss of income to the Port of Palm Beach will be significant, but can be absorbed," she said.

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